Thirty Years of Steady Electricity Growth Expected

By Russell Ray, Chairman, POWER-GEN International

After years of little or no growth in electricity usage, the U.S. power sector is poised for a new era of steady growth in consumption, new reports from the Electric Power Research Institute and the Energy Information Administration indicate.

While the amount of final energy – total energy consumption by end users – is expected to decline more than 20 percent through 2050, electricity consumption is projected to rise between 32 percent and 46 percent during the same period, according to EPRI’s “U.S. National Electrification Assessment,” which was released earlier this month. What’s more, the assessment suggests total electric load in the U.S. could grow by as much as 52 percent by 2050 thanks to efficient electrification, which describes the adoption of end-use technologies such as 3-D printing, electric vehicles, indoor agriculture, and artificial intelligence.

“While some of this load growth will be customer-supplied, capacity to ensure reliability will, in most cases, be supplied by the utility,” EPRI notes in its assessment.

It’s good news for an industry plagued by bankruptcies, plant closures and diminishing revenues.

“For many uses, electricity may serve as a more efficient and economical alternative, with lower environmental impact, offering equal or better service,” according to the assessment.

Meanwhile, the EIA is projecting electricity consumption in the U.S. will grow, on average, 0.9 percent a year through 2050.

The growth will be driven by technological forces inside and outside the power sector. The new power sector will be very different…

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